Originally Published on Salty Popcorn - You Can Find Several Other Reviews By Jack Dignan Here As Well
As is the case for a majority of great horror films, DON’T BREATHE has an incredibly simple plot. While there are certainly exceptions, horror films don’t need to be complicated to be scary. It’s not a plot driven genre, and while horror films such as THE SHINING or more recently THE CONJURING 2 are films that run well over two hours, at their core, they’re still simple plots with sinister motivations. With DON’T BREATHE, the premise is basic. It’s a home invasion movie from the perspective of the invaders, and while that could easily make for an interesting film, DON’T BREATHE has a more horrifying aspect added onto it.
The film opens with a shot from late into the movie, featuring the blind man dragging Rocky’s unconscious body down the street. It’s a horrifying, enthralling image that sets up what this film is going to be like, yet still, I was not prepared for the true terror that unfolded in this movie. It’s a sick, horrific film that can’t really be described as anything other than being monumentally fucked up. You think you know where this film is going, but wham! The rug is pulled out from underneath you and something so much worse is presented, and it’s safe to say there’s some things that happened in this movie that made everyone in the audience extremely uncomfortable, and I mean that in the best way possible.
Unfortunately, however, the first half isn't quite as scary as I wanted it to be, and while I was consistently entertained, I was hoping for a bit more. Not too much more, but just… something a little scarier, perhaps. Then the rest of the film happens, and my god is it messed up. Describing it as terrifying isn’t doing the third act justice. It’s so much more than that, and while I won’t describe anything that happens, it’s simultaneously the best and worst part of the movie. It was sick, and I loved it for having the balls to go where it went.
EVIL DEAD, undoubtedly, is the more horrific of the two, and probably even the more fun, but in terms of filmmaking, DON’T BREATHE is a far superior film. Alvarez has not only co-written a new and exciting movie with the help of frequent collaborator, Rodo Sayagues, but he’s also directed a beautiful movie. Seriously, the cinematography is off the charts, featuring a number of rather breathtaking long shots, in particular during the initial burglary of the blind man’s house. It’s the shot that never stopped, and I never wanted it to.
Tagging along with her through the horrors are Daniel Zovatto, who was in another great horror film recently titled IT FOLLOWS and Dylan Minnette, who previously starred in films such as PRISONERS and GOOSEBUMPS. Minnette gives his best performance to date with this film, even if his character defies logic about twenty times throughout the movie. He was likable and full of range, working as the voice of reason in this horrible scenario. Zovatto, as well, is good, but his character is a bit one dimensional and underused. He doesn’t get a lot to do, and while that was expected, I was actually quite glad, as he’s without a doubt the least likable of the leads, excluding the blind man, obviously.
There aren’t too many horror films out there that are remotely similar to DON’T BREATHE. Fede Alveraz has conjured up a horrific, original, layered and smart movie that will leave you trembling with fear. It’s not the be all and end all of the horror genre, like many lucky US citizens who got this movie last week will lead you to believe, but it’s certainly a big surprise and a lot of fun to watch. If you’re after something a little more intense than such teen-appealing films as LIGHTS OUT or THE VISIT, but can’t handle intense amounts of gore, DON’T BREATHE is the perfect combination. It’s a seamless mix of both, and this mix makes for one hell of a movie.